A Washington state judge has issued a $489,000 default judgment against a West Virginia man who waged an extensive and targeted harassment campaign against a Lot 2 community manager. Aside from the outright victory for Bungie and its employee, however, the case sets a new legal precedent for companies seeking to recover charges related to similar harassment of their employees.
The court’s order, if shared by paralegal Kathryn Tewson (who worked on the case), describes what Tewson calls “sociopathic behavior” by one Jesse James Comer, who became “incensed” after an unidentified Bungie community manager promoted fan art by a black artist. Comer then proceeded with a campaign of what the court describes as “carpet bombarding” the community manager with texts and “horrible, bigoted voicemails,” including multiple requests “to create options in his game where only persons of color would be killed.” .
The harassment extended to Comer sending “a virtually inedible, smelly pizza” to the target’s address, a “pizza-shaped threat” that caused the manager and their family to have “justifiable fears … for their safety, since someone was clearly targeting them and knew where they lived.”
Make new law
Comer apparently did not respond to the lawsuit, which led to a relatively open and closed default judgment and a restraining order for violating Washington’s cyberstalking, telephone harassment, invasion of privacy and “nuisance” laws. Significantly, however, the judge in the case also held Comer financially liable for disrupting Bungie’s “contractual relationships” with its employees, as well as costly violation of the Consumer Protection Act.
Comer’s harassment campaign cost Bungie more than $380,000 in research costs, “executive protection” for the affected community manager, and lost work when the employee “had to take time off and stop his public interactions with Lot 2 fans.” The company was also “forced to protect other existing employees and potential new employees from similar harassment campaigns” and “balance work between community managers while looking for new vectors of abusive behavior,” the ruling said.
In holding Comer liable to Bungie for those costs — as well as more than $80,000 in legal fees and $25,000 in statutory damages — the court also laid the groundwork for “a new common law tort” that paves the way for other companies to do the same. to do. . As Tewson describes it in her Twitter thread, “the Court has created a pathway for those with the resources to identify stochastic terrorists and hold them accountable to do just that and recover their costs in court.”
Attorney DM Schmeyer, who called the case “one of the best lawyers I’ve ever done.” a tweet threadadded “a heartfelt fuck to the bottom of digital society who are doing real harm and believe they are above responsibility, beyond accountability. You are not.”
This isn’t the first time Bungie has had to go to court to protect its employees from harassment. Last year, the company filed a lawsuit against serial cheater Luca Leone, who threatened and taunted Bungie employees while repeatedly trying to evade a ban on the game. That case continues to stumble forward toward trial amid dueling affidavits and motions.